Sunday, May 31, 2009

Disaster Training~ PODS

Point of Distribution = PODs
Yesterday, in 4 very different locations in the state, a full POD mock drill was done. Volunteers from across the region converged upon the designated location to unload a massive tractor trailer truck and set up a distribution plan for loading the vehicles of "victims" of the disaster scenario with cases of food, water, ice and emergency supplies. Some volunteers were "actors" who were given detailed descriptions of the rolls they were to play.
Typical of any disaster, people create problems and usually do not listen to directions. We had to confront problems and work them out in "real time." Lines of traffic were at a crawl being loaded and off loaded. It was easy to see that there were more evaluators on site than there were volunteers to do the actual work. There were only 7 people to load cars, and 30 evaluators evaluating our every move. Video cameras, still cameras, forms, documents, green vests, red vests, orange vests--every person at the drill had an important function. Forklifts, chains, ham radio operators, ambulances--all were needed for the 4 hour intensive drill.
Initially there was alot of confusion setting up the location and we only had 90 minutes to do it. None of us had worked together before and within a short amount of time we established leadership rolls and a somewhat bumpy rhythm to our task. After a short break and a quick explanation from the FEMA reps, we tried a different method and quickly streamlined the whole process in about 4 minutes. A hotwash round circle discussion of the items that we did well, the things that went poorly and suggestions for improvemement were voiced by every volunteer at the location. The areas that needed imporvement were quickly identified by every team member. This is why disaster drills are so important. To practice, improve and find the best and most efficient and effective ways to do the PODS with the least amount of injuries and chaos.
I was at one of the largest PODS in New Orleans in 2005 & 2006, so I know how big these things can get. Consider volunteering for your local disaster team. Your community needs you.

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